Even as Maine Republicans are rolling out a traveling show in an attempt to gain support among young people, they seem to have given up on their attempts at outreach to another problem demographic for the party: the majority of voters that are female.
In a post on the Maine GOP Facebook page today the Party ridicules lawyer Sandra Fluke for considering running for Congress in California with an image macro claiming she “can’t afford birth control” but can afford the filing fee to enter the election.
Fluke, as you might remember, gained national attention when Republicans in Congress refused to allow her to speak to a House committee hearing on insurance contraception requirements and exemptions as part of the Affordable Care Act. They instead insisted on an all-male panel to discuss women’s reproductive health.
Fluke was hoping to talk about how students at Georgetown, where she was studying law, had to pay in excess of $3,000 for birth control not covered by their health plan and the fact that 40% of her fellow female students suffered financial hardship as a result of a lack of coverage for contraception, prompting many low-income students to go without.
The issue rose to even greater national prominence when Rush Limbaugh attacked Fluke on his radio show, labeling her a “slut” and a “prostitute” and claimed that “she wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.” The backlash over his statements prompted dozens of advertisers to abandon his show.
The comments on the Facebook post are depressing. One that’s been up since 9 am this morning calls Fluke a “homely woman” who shouldn’t need birth control. Others label her a “liberal whore” and a “dumbass.”
I’m willing to give the Facebook page’s moderators the benefit of the doubt and assume they somehow haven’t yet seen these comments and will take them down when they do. I’m less inclined, however, to extend any such courtesy to Reverend Deril Stubenrod, who chimed in to say that Fluke “Reminds me a lot of my opponent Jeff McCabe in the District 107 Race.”
Stubenrod is an actual candidate for the Legislature running against McCabe, the Democratic Assistant Majority Leader, in Skowhegan. Stubenrod’s campaign Facebook page (which he used to make the comment) is worth checking out, especially the series of posts in which he alternately rails against against government largess and, without a hint of irony, insists that his local government should pay for a special van to transport his kids to a different school. He also attacks McCabe for not helping him secure this consideration.
Following the Fluke controversy and other, similar debacles, the national Republican Party pledged to do better and increase its outreach to women, a constituency it lost by double digits in the last presidential election. I guess that the Maine GOP, like Mike Huckabee, didn’t get that memo.
Update: The post seems to have been removed. Here’s a screenshot:
Update 2: Maine GOP Chair Richard Bennett has responded with this statement:
“It came to my attention this evening that an administrator on the Maine Republican Party Facebook page posted content that many Maine people would rightfully find offensive, regarding California Democrat Sandra Fluke. I personally considered the post offensive, and I deplored accompanying comments that were deriding and demeaning to Ms. Fluke. These posts do not represent my views or those of the Maine Republican Party, and they are beneath our standards of political discourse.
“As Chairman of the Maine Republican Party, I apologize for this offensive material, and assure you that it was not sanctioned by me or the leadership of the Maine Republican Party. We took swift action to correct the situation as soon as we became aware of it. The administrative privileges of the individual who created this offensive post have been removed, and we have tightened controls on the posting of material on our Facebook page.”
This is a reasonable and well-considered response. It’s also much less sarcastic than the initial reply I received from Maine GOP executive director Jason Savage on Twitter (and which has since been deleted):